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Conformational Switches: Developing New Stimuli Responsive Materials

   School of Pharmacy

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  Dr S E Matthews  No more applications being accepted  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Molecules and materials that respond to their environment are one of the most innovative ways of preparing smart systems for applications in sensing, molecule storage and drug delivery. Designing and building systems that can be easily controlled and tailored to the applications is an important challenge and this project aims to solve it by harnessing conformational switching.

In this project you will work with an established switching molecule based on a calix[4]arene and develop it into a range of smart materials with different responsive properties. This will involve exploring how structure effects switching, finding new triggers for switching and developing new switchable macrocycles for a range of application including the controlled release of pharmaceuticals. The project will enable the successful candidate to receive a highly interdisciplinary and unique training covering organic synthesis and physical characterisation; gaining synthetic skills for both small molecules and polymeric systems as well as developing and applying physical methods including advanced solution and solid state NMR, powder and single crystal X-ray crystallisation and calorimetry.

You will work with three specialist supervisors and join a vibrant research environment within the School of Pharmacy at UEA. You will become part of the chemical biology and medicinal chemistry and pharmaceutical materials and soft matter groups and be part of the Next Generation Therapeutics Research Theme ( Additionally you will receive research skills training throughout your PhD and will have the opportunity to present you work nationally and internationally.

We are looking for an enthusiastic student with a 1st or 2:1 class degree in chemistry, materials or pharmacy and a desire to work across traditional scientific disciplines. The challenging nature of the project combined with the training you receive will open up a wide range of careers for you.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at
A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. Applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


1) S. E. Matthews* S. Cecioni, J. E. O’Brien, C. J. MacDonald, D. L. Hughes, G. A. Jones, S. H. Ashworth, S. Vidal. Fixing the conformation of calix[4]arenes: when are three carbons not enough? Chem. Eur. J. 2018, 24, 4436-4444
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